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Boomers Not Backing Down From Foot and Ankle Arthritis
Date:7/29/2008

Surgical advances keeping them active, pain-free

CHICAGO, July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- They danced to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and disco. They worked out with Jane Fonda and made jogging their national pastime.

Now approaching retirement, many members of the "Me Generation" aren't ready to slow down, even if their bodies are. Foot and ankle surgeons say Baby Boomers are more likely than previous generations to seek care when arthritis develops in their toes, feet and ankles.

"Unlike their parents, Baby Boomers do not accept foot pain as a natural part of aging," says John Giurini, DPM, a Boston foot and ankle surgeon and president of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). "When conservative treatments fail, they want to know what other options exist."

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis. The most common forms to affect the feet are post-traumatic and osteoarthritis, especially in the big toe, ankle and midfoot joints.

"This generation has witnessed an explosion of new medical technology during its lifetime," says Stephen Frania, DPM, a Cleveland foot and ankle surgeon. "They have high expectations, sometimes too high."

Surgeons say many Boomers who seek treatment for arthritis assume they'll be able to resume activities such as running or playing sports. Seeking treatment early can improve the odds of preventing irreversible joint damage. For many patients with early-stage foot or ankle arthritis, changes in shoes or advanced custom orthotics can make a huge difference. While there is no fountain of youth for arthritis, surgeons say there are more medical options available to Baby Boomers than ever before.

Baby Boomers are most likely to develop osteoarthritis in their big toe joint. During walking, the big toe absorbs forces equal to nearly twice a person's body weight. It plays an important role in stooping and standing.
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SOURCE American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
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